Monday, May 28, 2012

Farewell L.A.

My sojourn on the Left Coast is winding down: I'm sitting in the lobby of the Burbank Airport Marriott, checking e-mails, tallying up my bill to make sure I haven't been overcharged, having the first of several cups of coffee.

This has been a wonderful long weekend. The reason for the visit was the annual AALA Roundup, sponsored by the gay and lesbian groups of AA in Southern California. There are workshops, meetings, banquets, fun and fellowship as they say. I saw several old friends, and tried to reconnect to someone dear to me who has, as nearly as I can tell, gone into seclusion with no way to contact.

Leo Carillo Beach, looking north toward Malibu
But in addition to the celebration of recovery, I took the opportunity of being really away to travel around a bit and visit old haunts. (Thanks to Hertz and a couple of free upgrades I've been tooling around in a candy apple red Toyota Corolla LE with the most awesome GPS.) I went up into the Hollywood hills to see the house where I used to live, completely redone now, having been severely damaged in a mudslide back in '95. (I don't like what they did with it...) Visited West Hollywood and the French Market, strolled around Beverly Hills, then back to Silver Lake to Sunset Junction, the funky little area on Sunset Blvd. near the house where I first moved back in 1988. It's very much alive and well, although A Different Light, the gay & lesbian bookstore is gone now, where I used to participate in poetry readings on Sunday nights, which led to my being published in an anthology of works culled from several years of those readings.

Yesterday, after a couple of workshops, I got in the car and drove up the coast to Leo Carillo State Park   north of Malibu, a camping ground and beautiful beach with rock formations to climb, caves to explore, and from which you can see harbor seals swimming just offshore. It was suggested to me, after a workshop on Prayer and Spirituality, that meditation can take many forms and I was reminded that, for me, getting in the car and driving, all alone, can be very calming and joyful. So I got on the freeway (well, two or three, really) and then through Las Virgenes, a long road through a deep canyon with spectacular views, that let me out on the coast in Malibu. I drove to the beach, explored a little, and fell asleep on the sand. Then back down Pacific Coast Highway to Venice, where I strolled Abbott Kinney Blvd., the main drag, and shopped and had one of the best sandwiches I've ever eaten: prosciutto, grilled asparagus and goat cheese with lemon zest on artisan bread. The whole day, though tiring, was remarkably restorative.

 A couple of nights I dropped off to sleep, fully dressed, at around 8 or 8:30 and didn't wake up until six the next morning. I've eaten well, and been reminded of how blessed I am -- in so many ways -- and that this is a wide, wide world. I mean, I know this -- I've traveled to many places here and abroad -- but it helps to be reminded from time to time, to actually see these places, meet the people, reconnect with old friends and remember that the little world I spin around in back home, which can give me such agita, is just a small piece of the larger puzzle.

In some ways it's been very emotional, seeing the places I used to live and remembering... I was a different person then, but aspects of that Fred are still with me. And now we're all coming home.

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